We can make friends anywhere

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

“This makes me so sad,” I said as I rolled my cart to the checkout. “I’m going to miss shopping here.”

The woman behind the counter smiled as she rang up my purchases.

“I’m just ready for it to be over,” she said.

As I looked toward the back of the store, I saw rows and rows of empty shelves. It was like seeing something slowly dying. Soon there will be nothing left in the building and the doors will close forever.

It’s funny how we have our favorite places to buy certain items. For me, this was my regular stop for dog food, cat food and cat litter. The prices were good and it was easy to get in and out quickly.

Of course, I usually ended up browsing the aisles beyond the pet food section. I loved the neat mugs they had for every holiday, and several of the beautiful storage boxes found their way into my cart.

Most of all, I liked shopping in this store because of the people who work there. I’m not sure why but I hit it off with Christina the manager. It was an experience of meeting someone and feeling as if you already know him or her.

Christina was always pleasant and one day we started talking and discovered we had a lot in common. Over the years, we had many conversations. We talked about our pets, our children, things going on in the world. We laughed a lot, too.

I knew she liked her job, even though it was stressful at times. She was going back to college and was grateful that her employer was helping to pay for her education.

The other folks who work there are equally friendly, and I got to know them, too. We often talked about our animals as they rang up my many cans of cat food. I learned a little about their families as we talked and it felt like I was visiting friends anytime I walked through the door.

When I heard they were closing the store, I felt a rush of sadness. The first time I went in after the announcement, I could feel the change in the atmosphere and in the attitudes of the employees.

“I’m so sorry y’all are closing,” I said. “I’m really going to miss seeing you.”

They said they were sorry, too. Mostly, they said talked about what a good experience it was working for their manager.

“I don’t know if we will find another one as good as she is,” one woman said. “She always works with us and tries to give us time off on weekends.”

“Yes, she is good,” said the other employee. “If something comes up and we need something or need time off, she helps us any way she can.”

They talked about finding new jobs and how uncertain the future felt for them. I felt bad for these people who, although we only knew each other in passing, seemed like friends.

I’m sad this is happening to these good people, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet them. You know, I do not think we meet each other by accident. I like to think we come into each other’s lives in order to learn and share something that needs sharing. Our paths might cross only briefly, but we are in some way changed by everyone who walks a while with us.

In a few weeks, the Family Dollar Store building will be empty and the people who worked there will move on to other experiences, perhaps to other jobs. Maybe our paths will cross again. I hope they do.

If, however, I don’t see my friends again, thank you Christina and crew for coming into my life for a while. I’m glad we met. And, even though I’m sad that the store is closing, I’m grateful for the words and the smiles we shared as you rang up my purchases.

I’ll miss you all.